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How do you get things done?

How big is your toolbox? What different ways do you use to get things done and be productive?

Have you ever thought about how you get things done? What are your tools? Do you talk to people? Do you meet? Do you have workshops? How do you drive decision making? How do you explain?

It’s fine if you never thought about it. Most people haven’t. As most of us, you probably learned to emulate the common habits of your work environment.

Well, it is time to unlearn that.

Do you know what do you want?

You would be surprised to discover how many people go into a meeting without knowing what they want out of it. In this case meeting becomes the end, not the means.

To be effective you first need to know what you want to accomplish. With that in mind you can set out to decide how to go about accomplishing that.

There lies our big challenge. Very few people have clarity as to what exactly they want to achieve.

So you have all the meetings to talk through an issue, to discuss something without any idea of the goal and what we are aiming for.

Your toolbox

Now flip this coin. Start by specifying exactly what needs to be achieved. A decision? A direction? Brainstorming? Communicate a message?

With that in mind, consider all the different ways you can approach the situation. What would you do? Book a meeting?

That is the easy answer. But your toolbox is already bigger than that and you should consider using it.

Have to get buy in on a new idea? What about writing all the arguments in favour and against in a well written document, ask for feedback and endorsement and then, if discussion is needed, do it in 10 minutes instead of 1 hour?

Wanna share an idea and get feedback? What about writing it in detail and sharing with your organisation and giving them the time and space to absorb the content before having to react?

Stuck with a problem and want to ask for help? What about detailing it in written and sharing with everybody that could help? This way you give them a chance to read, prepare, think about it and give you a more thoughtful response.

Have a training or presentation to deliver? What about recording the content and only meeting to allow for Q&A?

Different situations require different tools, hence different ways of approaching it.

It makes little sense to drive a screw with a hammer. It also make little sense to have a meeting to read through power point slides to people as opposed to just share them.

The (few) situations when meetings are a good choice

It is also important to recognise the situations where a meeting is your best tool in the toolbox. These situations, are the few ones where the timing and velocity of the interactions are key.

Notice that the velocity is the key here.

From the top of my mind I can think of the following situations where a meeting is better suited:

  • Urgent situations that needs back and forth
  • Scrum meetings
  • Planning activities
  • Team building exercise

For your next need, consider other ways to get your work done, avoid unnecessary meetings and get the most out of the necessary ones. It is good for you, for your colleagues and will make your life easier, specially when working remotely.

Jorge

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